tv John Mc Laughlins One on One PBS November 7, 2010 9:00am-9:30am PST
china blasts off. china is rocketing into the 21st century and not just the chinese program has ambitious goals. including building a manned space station and completing an unmanned lunar mission by the end of the decade. but is there an ulterior purpose? does china also have military aspirations in space? we'll ask this expert on chinese military and aero space affairs, dean cheng.
captions produced by visual audio captioning www.visualaudiocaptioning.com >> dean cheng, welcome. >> thank you very much. >> how robust are chinese space capabilities? >> china has a space power in the sense that it has both a launcher capacity. it produces its own satellites and it has its own mission control facilities. that puts it into basically one of only three or four countries that can do that. >> would you say it's on a par today with russia? >> in some ways it may actually be ahead of russia. >> really? >> yes, it spends about three
times as much in terms of sheer money than the russian space budget item. >> how about the technology? >> it varies. >> in relation to russian technology. >> right, in some areas it's behind. for example, power generation so that satellite life-span. on the other hand, when you're spending as much money and you're able to access foreign technology as well, including the russians, china's space capability is moving ahead. >> does it have satellites in orbit? >> yes, it does. >> many satellites? >> it's put up 50 since 1970 although we think maybe only a dozen are currently operational. >> can you tell me about europe's number of satellites that have been launched and are in the -- in orbit? >> europe as a whole, i believe, including their individual national programs, has probably put up several hundred satellites. >> several huh. how about the united states? i'm interested in a number comparison with 50. >> the u.s., having a longer history in space and a much
larger budget, has probably put up something i think on the order of 500 satellites. >> who are -- are those satellites that china has in space, are they civilian or military or dual use? >> they're very much dual use. china's space program at this point is mostly oriented spacect recently, very recently. >> uh-huh. >> will you describe the spacecraft? accelerated from >> the manned capsule is probably capable to our gemini series. it's the second manned launch. it's longer, wider and heavier than the soyuz and it's in fact quite a bit more capable than the soyuz. >> is it as big as a standard public bus? >> it is about 25 feet long. so i have to admit, i'm not sure how long a bus is. >> what about the interior of
the vessel? >> it's quite cramped. and some of the video we've seen so far put out by the chinese suggest that much accelerated from w module is crd indeed. last night they went into the orbital module, which is a separate section, so that gives them a little more room to get around. >> does it have flush toilets? >> no, it does not. what it does have is basically, for weightless conditions, a trap. >> the reason i bring that up is it would be quite a piece of chnology and it has been in the press, but it maybe was -- it clearly was not true of this cap you'll, but there are advance features that china is looking ahead to putting into those capsules. does it resemble, on the inside, what is in a u.s. spacecraft? >> no, the u.s. manned spacecraft, in particular, the space shuttle is quite a bit
larger, it has better food services and things like that. i'm not sure if they have flush toilets either, however. >> they don't, to my knowledge. >> that's right. but what it is is it is smaller than a shuttle but it's probably on a par with our gemini, maybe even our apollo series. >> you say "our" or are you -- >> new york citizen. >> citizen? >> yes, i was born in new york city. >> so you don't have a dual passport, chinese citizen? >> n n >> does china look upon you as a friendsly observer? >> i don't know. >> but you can visit china >> yes, i have. and do so probably once a year. >> what are the goals of china's space program? >> china's space program, first and foremost, is aimed at support national economic development, providing farmers with agricultural weather predictions, providing railway ministry with maps of where to
build things but the chinese are also interested in maintaining access to space in the event of conflict. >> how does it campaign to the united states from the point of view of military defense? during -- i'm told during the gulf war one, and the second gulf war, and during the kosovo, when we were in that theater, that our communications was 80% -- 80% dependant on satellites. and the russians, the russian involvement, similar involvements, depends about 70% on satellites. >> uh-huh. >> does this -- of course that means a great deal to a military planner. >> yes. >> the integration of the military grid with this unusual capability and would have been very helpful in the instance of katrina, by the way. >> uh-huh, uh-huh. >> and people are now saying, you know, why, why isn't it in
existence, et cetera, et cetera. >> uh-huh. >> but as a diagnostic, aside from more extreme uses, like launching from a satellite, which is technically possible, i think, isn't it? >> yes, yes, it is. >> and launching a nuclear war head from a satellite is technilly possible. >> yes, that is also technically possible. >> and it's technically possible from your satellite. >> uh-huh. >> i'm not being an alarmist here but we should really say that while the chinese don't dominate space, they want to be on a par with the united states? they want to be superior to the united states? the united states has a space command, a military space command. >> yes. >> full-fledged. >> yes. >> exclusively. >> that's right. >> does china have anything like that? >> there have been reports that the chinese are establishing a space command or a space military force. >> when will that be? >> where will that be? >> where will that be in china?
>> in the next term, in a year or so. >> that's in time. what about location? >> the chinese military command is centered in beijing so it would be set up -- in fact the astronauts are being tracked right outside beijing. >> isn't the launch site offlimits for the press? >> the launch site was offlimits to western and foreign press. actually, they broadcast this one live and allowed chinese press on to the grounds. >> now, our space command is located in colorado springs, cheyenne mountain, is that right? >> peterson air force base, i believe, but right outside chi yen. >> how does china view the u.s. space program? >> the chinese basically view our overall space program as the gold standard. as what they would like to achieve, hence they talk about, for example, going to the moon. militarily speaking, they believe that we are extremely dependanttn space for fighting the kinds of noncontact
asymmetric wars that we have done -- >> who is the we, the united states? >> the united states. >> we as the united states are very dependant on it for asymmetrical wars. >> yes, in the chinese view. >> describe that more fully the asymmetry. >> they view us as specializing in noncombat warfare, the ability to strike from afafa without putting as much of our forces in direct jeopardy and contact. they talk for our ability for our cruise missiles, stealth bombers, carrier battle groups to reach out and touch someone if you will. >> does china feel it's disadvantaged from the united states by reason the of the fact we have more space command, more satellites in space, the satellites are more sophisticated, spacecraft superior to theirs, do they feel at a tragic disadvantage? >> next they do. >> they do. however, at the international conferences china hasas been vey outspoken for over a decade
declaring that space should not be militarized, correct? >> yes. >> and it deplores the militarization of space, correct? >> correct. >> although it's quite clear that they're going down the military track to at least not be in a position of disadvantage to the united states, is that correct? >> they are moving down the track of wanting to ensure their own ability to use space in event of conflict. whether or not that's quite the same thing i think remains to be seen. the chinese basically understand, for the people's liberation army, the pla, they understand that if they are called upon to fight a war that they will have to be able to use space. >> the pla puts a program together and put the technology together with a corporation which is also, i think, joined to the pla, the people's liberation army. >> the chinese aerospace industries, their ownership is
extremely murky. >> murky. >> yes. the pla certainly has interests in all that occurs in places like chinese aerospace and space technologies corporation. >> showdown shud we assume that because the pla is so intrinsic and indispensable to the chinese ethic that there's a lot more to the militarization component of its program than is known commonly? >> i think it's safe to say that chinese space assets, any information that is derived from them, if the pla wants it the pla can and will get it. >> do you recall china's row in equipping saddam with fiberoptics and additional munitions prior to our entry into the war? >> i recall reading reports
about that, yes. >> do you believe those reports? >> i do. >> do you know that they were absolutely stunned of our entry into it? did you read -- our entry into iraq? >> i think that politically and diplomatically, by the time we invaded iraq in 2003, that they -- that didn't surprise them. what surprised them was our ability -- our decision to go ahead, regardless of whether or not the u.n. authorized it. >> was china not also extremely surprised at the power of our military juggernaut and also[ at the smart weapons and the unbelievable accuracy and power of those weapons? >> yes. they really were -- one of the things that really surprised them was when the giant sandstorms hit our advance to bagged and the fact that american forces use be gps were
able to motor through much of that. interestingly, we have indications that the chinese, using their satellites, were tracking the advance to baghdad. >> so looking at this picture in the united states and china's concern about its own national defense, china really wants to do more to get into the international sphere as a play player, and to do that you really have to have a developed space program, both politically and militarily. >> yes. >> correct? >> correct. >> to what extent is china relying on espionage to increase its mastery of high technology? est.l put that question to our but fut first here is his distinguished profile.
>> born, new york city. 39 years of age. wife, sharon. presbyterian. politics, independent. princeton university b.a. politics. massachusetts institute of technology, m.i.t., ph.d. studies, political science. institute for foreign policy analysis, research associate, three years. u.s. congressional office of technology assessment, two years. science applications international corporation. the largest u.s. employee-owned research and engineering company, senior analyst, five years. senior asian analyst four years currently. languages, mandarin chinese. hobbies, history and science, c, traveling. dean benjamin cheng. >> dean benjamin cheng is joined with me with dr. joan
johnson-freese, now teaching at the naval war college in that great state of rhode island. in that city filled with grandeur near there at least or on the edge of it, maybe in newport, rhode island. she is a noted author. many books on the subject under which we have discussion. and she's assumed the position of chairwoman of the department of national security studies at the war college where she has been since 2002. welcome, dr. johnson-freese. do you have any thoughts o what has transpired on this program so far? >> yes, i've been listening with great interest and i guess i'd like to make two points. you had a discussion about whether the chinese were against the militarization of space and i guess i'd like to weigh in and say they've never said they're against militarization. like the united states, using space for military purposes has been considered part of military modernization, what the chinese have been adamant about and have
gone to the u.n. and proposed, with the russians, treaties about this weaponnization and confusing the two is, i think, well, it's certainly a misnomer and a mistake but it blurs the discussion of what the chinese are trying to do and the comparison between the u.s. and the chinese programs so that would be point one. >> yeah. >> and the second is that while the united states -- we like to think of ourselves as kind of hans solo or obie juan ka nobodiy in space, much of the rest of the world including china is darth vader when we talk about space. much of the world again including china sees the united states as if not directly then certainly indirectly moving towards the weaponnization of space. >> let's clear it up a little bit more. what are china's intentions with regard to space, does it object to militarized space, you've ruled it out and dean cheng has
ruled it out. does it seek parity with the united states or military dominance? >> well, it certainly wants the space capabilities, military space capabilities that it sees as very valuable for the united states, again, learning from two gulf wars and kosovo and a host of other military activities, where space has provided force enhancement capabilities that china very much desires. weaponnization is the 64,000-dollar question with regard to intent. as you've already talked about, 95% of space technology is dual use. so whether it is putting up a satellite for civil purposes or military purposes is, for the most part, they're trying to use it to maximize one satellite for as much as they can, both. but it's very hard to tell chinese intent. they are not transparent. they are very opaque. and i think, too, they're not quite sure what they want to do. i don't think they want parity.
they understand that economically, , at's impossible. if they're seeking some kind of asymmetric advantage, they don't appear to be spending their money in ways that would give them that. they're buying a lot of one of this and one of that and going for high prestige programs like manned space. but they don't seem to have a coherent military space architecture that would give them an advantage. >> to put it in even further perspective you want to take note, if i'm correct that mao tse-tung started the program in 1958 am i correct? >> basically, with the russians, yeah. >> so then there was a launch about 10 years later? of what dong fong hong. >> dong fong hong. >> dong fong hong one. >> yes. >> what year was that. >> 1970. >> 1970? >> yes.
>> if china is going to be a player in space it's got to have a role in the procalls the rules of the game. >> yes. >> right now the rules of the game are in the hands of the united states dominantly if not exclusively, does the european union play a role in it. >> yes, it does. >> minor role? >> new york the european powers, u.s. china and europe probably in that order. >> how do they get in the game in developing a role in the standardization procedures and what does what. >> china is doing what it does right now, forging cooperative links in places like europe in programs such as the galileo program as well as joint scientific ventures so they have a place at the table when people are writing up the protocols and standardizations and things like that. >> do you think it has a competitive edge? >> i don't think it has a competitive edge but it's trying to get a seattle at the table.
>> it's playing catchup? >> playing catchup relative to the world it was isolatedn its space program. today's space program is much more internationalized. >> you say and dark kick. >> antarcic. >> he 09s and '9- 09s, china was domestic development. >> i have the idea that the space program, how so far it appears to be is unfocused, is that true, or dr. johnson-freese, is that a correct impression i have? >> that the chinese space program is unfocused? >> unfocused, yes, happily and essentially stumbling along but essentially stumbling? >> no, i would not say it's stomach martin luther king, i would say it's multipurposed. it can't easily be categorized as for just one thing.
i agree with dean, it's primarily economic development. but they're getting prestige, they're getting legitimacy, they're getting dual use technology, they're getting influence on science and technology education, but it's many things to many people and that may come across as unfocused or haphazard but i think it's trying to maximize limited resources. >> well, how limited are the resources? it's current bucket for space is $2 billion a year. our budget is what 60, $70 billion? >> 25-30. >> 25 billion? i think -- but the percentage is the same of xdp, 1% for each and of course the dollar in china, we're talking dollar terms, goes much further hand it does in the united states so you can buy quite a bit pour $2 billion in cha. >> you can buy quite a bit but china is still in some ways a poor country. every engineer that is committed to building space programs is an engineer not availle to
building dams or improving micro economics. every dollar spent on the space program is a dollar not available to help, you know, ago cultural -- solve agricultural issues in the hinterlands in china. >> suffered simultaneous cyber attacks that many u.s. officials believe was carried out by the chinese governments and its positionies to probe our systems. >> yes. >> this is called cyber warfare. >> uh-huh. >> do you think cyber warfare ought to really be the game and forget all about space, cyber warfare is cheaper and it can accomplish the same objectives, you can disable instantaneously and over a very wide scope. >> i think that rather framing it as an either/or that if we view it as complementary. >> we need both. >> we need both and conversely
it poses even more of a potential threat. that the other side, whoever that may be, including china is able to exploit both cyber warfare and space systems, in that case you're looking at much more of a full spectrum threat. >> do you have any comments on that? >> yeah, i think what's just been pointed out is technology creates issues as well as creates opportunities. and sometimes more technology is not the answer. sometimes what we need to do is start setting parameters to when do you consider activities threatening and when do you not. >> well, if you were -- if you were at the pentagon now, would you be taking careful note of the fact that there was a recent launch of a space capsule that, in terms of what the last launch was, is remarkably superior to the last launch in its technology and its duration, five days, which is a giant step for a beginner, a relative beginner?
>> if i were at the pentagon i wouldn't be as concerned as if i were at nasa. the chinese political will and their consistency as compared to our inability to move forward or at least our nebulous commitment to the manned program creates a perception that the chinese are catching up or even leapfrogging ahead of others in space technology. >> why the -- go ahead. >> i would say that if i were at the pentagon on the other hand, what i would be focused on is not necessarily whether they would launch but what they're going to do in space. if, for example, the orbital model detaches and engages in maneuvering in subsequent future missions, if they do docking which will be very much accelerated from where we were, where the soviets were, then in that case they're displaying a technological capability, that would be quite meaningful. >> is everybody concerned about vulnerability here and rightly so? you take those satellites out,
you've lost your eyes and you've lost your ears. you can hear nothing and you can see nothing. the name of the game is satellites. is that true? >> yes. >> yes. >> well, isn't that just all offal? >> especially because it's the united states that has the most assets. >> what about the vulnerability factor, how vulnerable are they, we've only got five seconds. >> we're extremely vulnerable. >> extremely, the world is extremely vulnerable? >> yes. >> how big is the h he is peon knowledge, industrial espionage in china and should it be regarded as a threat to the united states, dr. johnson-freese. >> well, china has acquired its space technology through a variety of mets, develops its own indigenously, it's bought a lot from the russians for its manned program. it's very upfront that it likes to borrow the acquired knowledge from others in terms of not reinventing the wheel, taking the basic soyuz design and then
there is espionage, and, first of all, space is a very globalized industry. what it can't get from the united states legally it can get from many other countries legally. but there are other -- there are still some areas that are offlimits to china. the primary one i would say is sensors. sophisticated sensor technology. that's been an area of considerable concern. >> hold on. a high-ranking officer at the fbi calls china the biggest espionage threat to the united states, what do you say to that. >> when you've got 1.2 billion people to draw from you've got a large pool of folks to flood the system -- >> you mean like the 700,000 chinese who visit the united states annually. >> but not all of them are spies, some of them are students and tourists. >> some of them work for the media. >> how worried should we be on a
scale of zero to 10, 10 being, you know, you're in panic, your hair's on states annually. technology is open technology. technology is open technology. >> i if. for such a small if i live to a hundred. if social security isn't enough. if my heart gets broken. if she says yes. we believe if should never hold you back. if should be managed th a plan that builds on what you already have. together we can create a personal safety net, a launching pad, for all those brilliant ifs in the middle of life. you can call on our expertise and get guarantees for the if in life. after all, we're metlife.